A finish time of 25-minutes, 28-seconds? Not a bad five-mile tempo run.
Finish place of 90th? Maybe at this November's NCAA Cross Country Championships.
Emotional at the start line and euphoric at the finish line? That goes without saying. If anything, it was backwards.
I am writing about this past Saturday's Huntertown Charger 5K and the effort of my oldest son, Brad Hess.
Yes, he ran 3.1 miles in 25:28 and finished 90th out of 169 runners. And, yes, he was beside himself with joy.
Perhaps you know Brad's “story”. You do if you follow area high school cross country or if you read my column from November, 2011 entitled “Autumn of Perspective”.
In case you haven't, Saturday's time of 25:28 was over 10 minutes slower than Brad's last competitive 5K, ran in November 2010 where he placed 16th at the Footlocker Midwest Championships in Kenosha, Wis. He was sixteenth in a field of over 250 of the top high school runners from 12 states. He would sign a scholarship offer from Ohio State and move to Columbus last fall.
So, the question is: How could Brad be so happy now? The answer: Perspective. It's the kind of perspective that a 19-year-old can't imagine but a 20-year-old often knows too well.
You tend to grow up quickly that first year after high school. For Brad, perspective has been gained at an incredible cost.
His dreams were taken away last October when he was diagnosed with hip dysplasia in both hips. The first three doctors told him he would never run again and so his college career was over after one race. He moved home in December, with broken hips and broken dreams. But in January he was given a sliver of hope, along with six, six-inch titanium screws in his left hip. Those were required in order to keep his re-built pelvis in place.
He endured tremendous emotional pain and agony in the fall only to rehabilitate through physical pain and agony in February, March and April.
In May Brad started all over again with surgery on his right hip where he received five more titanium screws. After another month of being bed-ridden, he started rehab all over again. He was permitted to jog a mile last Thursday, to celebrate his 20th birthday. He jogged two miles on Friday in the hopes that he could simply finish the Charger 5K, a race in front of dozens of former teammates.
A 5K time of 25:28? After nine visits to St. Louis, two surgeries, 11 titanium screws, hundreds of hours of rehab and therapy, that's pretty darn fast. If you put it in perspective.
Of course, Brad wants to go faster and further. The doctor, who has done the surgery on over 280 high school and college athletes - but never a distance runner - says it will take 9-12 months to determine if Brad will ever be competitive again.
The doctor says the odds are pretty darn good. If you put it in perspective.